Nova Scotia received its first allotment of 1,950 doses of the Pfizer-BioNtech COVID-19 vaccine today, Dec. 15.
Due to strict transportation, handling and storage requirements, the first vaccinations will be administered in Halifax, where the vaccine is stored.
“This is a milestone in the battle against the virus,” said Premier Stephen McNeil. “As the supply increases, every Nova Scotian will have access to the vaccine. But this will take many months, and I ask everyone to be patient in the meantime as the vaccine rollout begins with front-line health-care workers and the most vulnerable.”
The first immunization clinic, operated by Nova Scotia Public Health, will start Wednesday, Dec. 16. Those who work in the following areas will receive the vaccine this month:
— COVID-19 units in hospitals
— emergency departments
— critical care units
— birth unit and early labour unit at the IWK Health Centre
— regional care units
Long-term care staff directly involved in patient care in Central Zone, including designated caregivers, will receive the vaccine in December. All other long-term care staff, including designated caregivers, across the province will receive the vaccine between January and March.
Nova Scotia’s immunization plan takes a phased approach, following the National Advisory Committee on Immunization guidance on COVID-19 vaccine. The province will continue to receive small weekly shipments of vaccine until the end of March 2021, when the supply is expected to increase.
Between now and March the immunization effort will focus on:
— front-line health-care workers who are closely involved in the COVID-19 response
— long-term care residents and staff
— older Nova Scotians, starting with those 80 and older, then 75 and older, then 70 and older
“We must use the limited vaccine we receive where it will have the biggest impact in our health-care system and in our communities,” said Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health. “As vaccine supply increases in the spring and summer months, we will be able to gradually expand who gets the vaccine and where.”
Nova Scotians need to continue to be patient and vigilant in adhering to public health protocols before and after they receive their vaccine. That includes wearing a mask, maintaining two metres/six feet of physical distance from others, practising proper hand hygiene, following gathering limits and staying home if unwell.
— the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine must be kept at minus 70 degrees Celsius in a special ultra-low temperature freezer
— doses of Moderna COVID-19 vaccine are also expected to arrive this month. They must be stored at minus 20 degrees Celsius
— Nova Scotia is expected to receive 150,000 doses of vaccine by the end of March 2021
Coronavirus symptoms, testing and vaccine information: https://novascotia.ca/coronavirus/symptoms-and-testing/
Pfizer-BioNtech COVID-19 vaccine information: https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/drugs-health-products/covid19-industry/drugs-vaccines-treatments/vaccines/pfizer-biontech.html